Château Belgrave 2014
• Domaine: Château Belgrave
• Appellation: Haut Médoc
• Classification: Fifth Growth, 5ème Grand Cru Classé
• Origin: Left Bank, Bordeaux, France
Château Belgrave is a Fifth Growth property in the in the commune of Saint-Laurent of the Haut Médoc appellation. If the estate had been planted a few feet away, it would have been a part of its more prestigious counterpart, Saint-Julien. With all that in mind, Château Belgrave is still considered by wine critics such as Jane Anson with Decanter to be one of the better value Bordeaux estates.
Château Belgrave is one of the older properties in the Haut Médoc and was originally a respected hunting lodge during the reign of Louis XV. It neighbors an estate well-known for its impressive rise in quality, Château Lagrange. It was initially named Château Coutanceau in the early part of the 20th Century and was classified in 1855 under this name. Eventually it was given its current moniker, Château Belgrave, by owner Marcel Alibert after the finely graveled terroir on property. Château Belgrave was in a state of disrepair when it was purchased by the négociant Vignobles Dourthe in 1979. Since then, the négociant has invested copious sums of money and made sweeping changes at the property. Patrick Jestin, the CEO of Vignobles Dourthe, puts it best: “This significant responsibility, continued source of investment and tireless, never truly assuaged quest for perfection, brings with it the immense satisfaction of in some way expressing the character of the soils and revealing in our wines the refinement, depth and personality of this outstanding terroir.”
In 1990, Château Belgrave eliminated all chemical fertilizers and pesticides and sustainability is very much at the heart of their approach. They harvest at lower yields now, focusing on picking vines at their peak phenolic ripeness. In their 59-hectare vineyard, plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot thrive in the mixture of clay, sand, and limestone terroir. The viticultural team has been phasing out the Cabernet Franc plantings in favor of more Merlot vines. The legendary consultant, Michel Rolland assists in the viticultural process at Château Belgrave. The winery is now a gravity flow operation, and Château Belgrave now practices parcel by parcel vinification. Throughout the years, the négociant made serious investments to include mapping the vineyard to better understand the different terroirs within the property. Very little is left to chance here, and each clone is carefully selected to be planted in the optimum terroir that suits the varietal best. After the grapes are harvested, they typically undergo a cold soak maceration - a practice that is commonly used in Burgundy - prior to being vinified.
The wines from Château Belgrave do need a bit of time before they are enjoyed, largely due to their impressive and sturdy tannic structure. Younger vintages can be decanted for a few hours so they are able to express themselves more fully. The wines are beautifully balanced -- with delicate floral qualities and ripe black fruit – making them an excellent match for Asian cuisine. Because of their heavy tannins, they can lay down and be enjoyed years down the line.
"The 2014 Belgrave, which has been owned by Dourthe since 1979, has a backward, cedar and woodland-scented bouquet with hints of cold stone percolating through the black fruit with time. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, well integrated oak and a sense of harmony and composure towards the finish that just needs to lose a little nascent hardness. This is a well-made Belgrave to enjoy over the next decade." - Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate (03/31/2017, Interim Issue) Rating: 89 Drink: 2019-2032
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